Forget basketball, soccer, softball, and those Olympic sports we all pretend to like every four years. Mixed martial arts (MMA) should be feminists’ favorite sport. Derived from a blending of martial arts such as karate, wrestling, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu, MMA is unique in placing its female fighters and champions on equal footing with their male counterparts. Feminists should love MMA.
Dana met Ronda Rousey.
Since coming onto the scene, Ronda has rapidly become one of the UFC’s biggest stars, commanding a crossover appeal (doing commercials, late-night TV, and movies) without parallel among her male peers. And she’s not just a pretty face. The former Olympic judoka has defended her title multiple times, improving her performance with each outing despite a staggeringly demanding schedule. Also, she got it honest: her mother was an world-class judoka who later earned a PhD. Talk about a family of accomplished women!
Compare this to other major sports leagues, where women hardly get the same platform that men do. The WNBA cannot boast of anyone who rivals the star power of Lebron James; most other major sports don’t have a league for female athletes that even comes close to the WNBA’s exposure or popularity (which isn’t saying much).
Contrast that to MMA, where, in the UFC and other organizations, female fighters headline cards and draw pay-per-view buyers and serious sponsors. Moreover, Rousey and her main rival, Miesha Tate, coached a season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) where they coached men and women. How many other sports can boast that, in their first 20 years in existence, women coach men at the highest level? Building on the success of Rousey and the bantamweight division she spearheads, the new season of TUF features an exclusively female cast introducing the 115-pound women’s division.
So in my view women, and those who care about the advancement of women (in a society that still too often treats them as second-class citizens), should be among the most vocal advocates for MMA. In no other sport have female athletes come to occupy such a prominent position, equal to and even surpassing many of the male stars, in so short a time frame.
If you want to be in the business of rewarding activities that empower women and treat them equally, then MMA is for you.
Feminists, your sport is here. As Bruce Buffer would say, “IT’S TIME” to give credit where credit is due.